Nicki Ellis is the dynamic and creative force behind the proudly local bespoke homeware and décor studio Love Milo, which specialises in ceramic, wooden, glass and textile products. In 2010 Ellis discovered she was pregnant with her son Milo. This exciting news motivated Ellis to create for herself and to begin on a journey her son could be inspired by. So she took the leap, used her colour-grading and photography skills and started creating beautiful things.

Bird cushion

My approach to design…

I try not to design based on trends but rather around images that speak to me. Often while out in nature, I will find something with a pattern that resonates with me and then use this for inspiration.

I am passionate about…

• Images that look at different perspectives or change your own.
• Art that makes you feel.
• Nature and what it offers us on all levels.
• The mind and the psyche and how they can be altered and improved.
• Moving lyrics in music.
• Alternative medicine and healthy food.
• Humanity.
• Meditation.
• Yoga.
• Philosophy.

Branch mugs

I spend my time…

I would love to say I spend my time doing all sorts of interesting things, but being a mom of three means I actually spend most of my time doing really “normal” things like fetching kids, buying food and getting petrol.

Love Milo is…

A South African design studio that focuses on nature-inspired designs, using sustainable and eco-friendly materials. We create designs that explore the harmony between line and form found in nature.

Cosmo storage basket

My favourite materials to work with are…

Probably clay. I love how tactile it is and that you can physically add or remove parts. It’s rewarding working in 3D form. Perhaps it’s because I often work with 2D images that I find the 3D form so refreshing.

A typical day for me involves…

Getting the kids ready for school, then going to my studio, checking emails, photographing products and meeting with my team. I try to squeeze in some yoga before running off to fetch kids from all over the place.

Fern bowl set

My personal style can be described as…

Minimal but eclectic, natural but sophisticated. I like to mix mediums and ideas and not stick to the script too much. I like pushing boundaries (in every area of my life).

My favourite South African designers are…

Pichuluk, Michael Chandler, Chulaap.

Indigo mineral design espresso cups

My top tips to South African creative…

Be aware of trends but don’t live by them. Look within yourself because true creativity comes from the depth of your own self. There is no such thing as a mistake, and don’t judge yourself by the approval of others.

South African craft is…

Progressing into a really exciting and colourful space. It’s finally moving away from the “cliché” African look you associate with tourist stuff and is becoming more contemporary, by way of finding its own voice and style. It’s beautiful to watch!

Stripe chair

Future plans include…

Moving solely online. We will also be introducing more interesting designs and products, so watch this space.

You can purchase Love Milo products at

Nicki Ellis. Image by Ferdinand van Huizen